Coming off their highest scoring game in nearly a month, the Raptors look to defeat Minnesota for the 10th straight time Tuesday night when the teams meet at the Air Canada Centre.
Toronto (22-36) acquired Marion from Miami last week, dealing Jermaine O’Neal, Jamario Moon and a draft pick in hopes of bolstering an offense which was averaging 96.9 points before the deal. At first, the trade seemed to have the opposite effect. The Raptors averaged only 86.5 points while losing their first two games with Marion in the lineup - both in lopsided fashion.
The offense seemed to come together Sunday in a 111-100 win over the Knicks - Toronto’s best offensive output since a 113-97 win over Sacramento on Jan. 25. On Sunday, Marion had 16 points and 15 rebounds for his second double-double with the Raptors.
The four-time All-Star, who is averaging 12.1 points and 11.7 rebounds overall this season, believes the offense will start to jell soon.
“When you’re able to do that the game comes naturally, it starts to feel better,” Marion said. “That’s when you start feeling the rhythm and everything starts coming together.”
The Raptors have had little trouble against the Timberwolves (18-37) in recent years. They’ve won nine straight in the series, including a 110-102 victory Feb. 10 in Minnesota in which Toronto shot 53.1 percent from the field.
Minnesota has also dropped seven of its last eight overall, including a 111-108 defeat at home to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
The Timberwolves placed six players in double figures, led by 20 points each from Ryan Gomes and Sebastian Telfair, but they continue to struggle without star center Al Jefferson, who tore the ACL in his right knee two weeks ago. Minnesota is 1-4 without Jefferson despite being in the lead or tied entering the fourth quarter of three of those defeats.
“You just have to fight through that frustration level when you think things aren’t going your way,” coach Kevin McHale said.
McHale will have a little more depth to work with now that new acquisitions Shelden Williams and Bobby Brown will be ready to play. Williams, the fifth overall draft pick in 2006 by Atlanta, averaged just 3.7 points and 2.6 rebounds in 30 games for Sacramento this season. Brown appeared in 47 games with Sacramento, averaging 5.2 points.
Though Minnesota chose to acquire Williams and Brown prior to the trade deadline in exchange for Rashad McCants and Calvin Booth, McHale indicated the Timberwolves still aren’t quite sure what the new players can do.
“We don’t know what they do well, what they don’t do well,” he said. “It’ll be a process.”
The Timberwolves have not won in Toronto since a 108-97 victory on Jan. 21, 2004.